The Sydney Morning Herald reported on April 25,2009:
WAVES of Australia-bound asylum seekers crossing from Malaysia to Indonesia have prompted the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to send the national security adviser, Duncan Lewis, to talk with Malaysian officials about counter measures.
Mr Lewis was accompanied by the head of Customs, Michael Carmody, and senior immigration and Australian Federal Police officers. Before leaving Kuala Lumpur yesterday, members of the delegation said the meetings with Malaysian officials were "positive".
"There has been agreement at a conceptual level for increased co-operation and engagement to combat people smuggling," one member said.
On February 1 2012 a boat capsized of the east coast of Malaysia.The wording of reports regarding that incident by Malaysian media, which are essentially state controlled, is instructive:
EIGHT foreigners drowned in Malaysian waters early yesterday while attempting to sneak into Australia to seek greener pastures.
District police chief Superintendent Che Mahazan Che Aik said when police reached Telok Semayong about 8am, they saw eight bodies washed ashore while further off, the 12 survivors were spotted in a group.
“We believe the foreigners were trying to leave the country illegally. They were using Malaysia as a spring-board,” he said.
Initial investigations also revealed that the passengers had paid US$8,000 (RM24,000) each for the journey from their country to Australia.
The 12 who were rescued were sent to the district police station to assist investigations while the bodies were sent to the district hospital for post-mortem.
(by Sam Bak Heng, 8 drown off Johor;New Straits Times,02 February 201)
Eight people drowned, 11 others were rescued while six more are still missing, all foreigners, after their boat capsized off Teluk Semayong waters, Sedili Besar, near Kota Tinggi Wednesday morning. Kota Tinggi Police Chief Supt Che Mahazan Che Aik said the boat was believed to be illegally ferrying men from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to a neigbouring country when the boat capsized.
(Report in the Borneo Post, 2 February 2012, quoting the national wire news service, Bernama)
Clearly, what Australia regards as "asylum seekers" Malaysia regards as opportunists.
As far as Malaysian police are concerned the main issue here is "illegal ferrying".
The persons being ferried are not being treated as asylum seekers, refugees, or anything of that sort but rather suspects or accomplices in a crime.
How then did Duncan Lewis and party come to the conclusion that "there has been agreement at a conceptual level"?
Lewis is now Secretary , Department of Defence, and the post of National Security Adviser has yet to be filled. Nevertheless, as NSA he was , in essence, the country's chief spy.
As Sally Neighbour put it:
The most recent initiative is the appointment by the former Rudd government of a National Security Adviser (NSA), who works out of the prime minister’s office and chairs a new National Intelligence Coordination Committee, to ensure the agencies are “closely aligned [and] effectively integrated”. Australia’s first NSA, the former SAS commander Brigadier Duncan Lewis.....
(the post) centralises control in the prime minister’s office ... the position is entirely outside the accountability umbrella of IGIS.
(Sally Neighbour, Hidden Agendas,The Monthly, 2010-11-04)
Despite these advantages, it does appear that the NSA learnt nothing in Malaysia, or of Malaysian attitudes to what Australia considers asylum seekers. Judging from the SMH report, and from the Gillard government's handling of the the "asylum seeker" issue it does appear that the present administration is light years away from understanding the problem of illegal migrants.Pretending that this simply another aspect of the white man's burden is an idea that has long passed its due date.